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Response to Durham City Council and the Board of County Commissioners regarding SCAD proposal

April 3, 2023

To: Durham City Council and the Board of County Commissioners:

On March 7, 2023, we submitted a request to remove the name of Habitat for Humanity of Durham from all applications, proposals and amendments related to SCAD. Planning Director Sara Young informed us that our name could not be removed from the ODU Text Amendment Application, but that our letter would be added to the file for review.

After a thorough review of our records and multiple conversations with involved parties, we learned that our involvement in this proposal was enacted through an unauthorized third party. No staff member or officer of Habitat for Humanity of Durham authorized our association with or sponsorship of the proposal or related amendments. At no point did we authorize a co-sponsorship role, or anyone authorized to act on our behalf to be involved in the actual writing of the proposal or amendments. As you may note on the application, there is no signature by anyone authorized to sign on our behalf. James Belanger, interim CEO at the time, has stated that he never gave such authorization. In addition, it has come to our attention, that the same third party has been speaking and negotiating on the behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Durham with members of City Council and others as it relates to SCAD. This communication was not authorized and any representations, potential commitments, or promises made on our behalf were not permitted by HFHD. We acknowledge that Durham Habitat expressed support for some elements of the proposal at its outset and advocated for particular UDO changes that aligned with our non-profit mission of providing affordable housing in the community. However, based on the above information, Habitat for Humanity of Durham cannot support the SCAD document.

We wish to be transparent with the city of Durham and the community, as we have discovered additional information after our March 07, 2023, request. Habitat for Humanity of Durham is a 501c (3) non-profit dedicated to affordable housing through lending, building, and financial literacy programs. Our mission is to assist in the process of building generational wealth through homeownership for the families that we serve in our community and abroad. We stay steadfast in the knowledge that our advocacy work must always align with that mission. We stand proudly in the family of non-profits and community advocates that serve Durham as a partner in affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity of Durham believes that providing affordable housing in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. With that intention, we applaud all efforts by individuals and groups that seek to foster that mission with transparency, community good in mind, and the goal of creating equitable housing opportunities. We remain proud members of the Durham community and look forward to having a seat at the table to discuss desirable changes to the UDO with the city of Durham from an affordable housing lens with other Non- Profit and Community partners.

Yours Respectfully,

Carleena V. Deonanan
Chair of the Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity of Durham